What stars shine and fade and shine again in the sky; warming upturned faces with the glow of patriotism writ loud upon a black canvas?
Why, those would be fireworks.
I fucking hate fireworks.
I didn’t always. Then the kids came, and we moved and I found myself penned in by seasonally jingoistic merrymakers. Packed into a neighborhood where the houses are separated by long, thin driveways, real estate law and little else. Neighbors’ voices come unbidden, crashing through screens in windows open to the summer, and alerting us to their favorite jam or who, exactly, needs to “fuck off.”
Imagine then the sound of low-budget fireworks, placed in the street in front of your house, the fuse hurriedly lit before a car can come and ruin it all. Greenish glows and pops like gunshots well past bedtime alerting everyone that it is fucking America’s birthday, y’all.
Fireworks: For the drunken and soon-to-be fingerless
I don’t begrudge the patriotic their due on the Fourth itself. It warms even my cynical heart to look out upon the drunken and soon to be fingerless as they light their fuses and think to myself, “Happy Birthday, you ol’ battle axe.”
Once upon a time I would even brave the throng, 300,000 people strong, to see Boston light it’s own offering to the gods of war and sovereignty, happy to be squashed against my fellow Americans as the Pops played on.
It’s really the celebrations on the 3rd and the 5th and the 6th and sometimes right up through the 20th that the display of “America, Fuck Yeah” begins to wear Keira Knightley thin.
I’m sure next year we’ll find a place to go and see some real fireworks. The kids will be delighted as lemon yellow and freeze-pop blue flowers of fire bloom 200 feet high and the petals fall and fade, slow and soft and reflected in small shining eyes. And that’s the moment when I will learn to embrace the fervor of my neighbors.
When, on a warm, still August night I will hear the battle cry, “Dude! Don’t shoot that fahckin’ bottle rocket at my fahckin car!” and I will softly chuckle to myself and whisper, “Happy belated birthday, you Grand Old Bitch.”
Because that is America, too.
Editor’s Note: A version of this post first ran on the late DadCentric.com blog.